Honky Tonk

I’m reading Springsteen’s book. It’s a good read, he’s as bold an overwriter as an autobiographer as he is (or was) a lyricist, and that’s a good thing. It’s very lively and evocative of the time and his passions as a boy, and as a teen learning to play guitar and gig around. That’s how far I am.

When he gets his first electric guitar, which costs $69 with a small amp the size of a breadbox, a Kent from Japan, he sets to learning to play Honky Tonk. Which got me to thinking about what Honky Tonk sounded like, and I couldn’t conjure it. Though, of course, it’s a song we’ve all heard a million times. Here’s Bill Doggett’s original, parts 1 and 2 combined.

It’s a blues, so of course Johnny Winter covered it. Sans shirt, for some reason, which isn’t really an impressive look.

The Winter recording is from an Italian show in 1988. A look at the Honky Tonk Wikipedia page shows tons of covers, very few of them after the 1960s. What’s funny is that the Beach Boys, that premiere harmony group covered the vocal-free song.

The Boss talks about how in the early 60s, before the Beatles, the idea of a rock combo singing was pretty much unheard of. Bands with electric guitars played instrumentals, like Honky Tonk and Pipeline and Wipe Out! Thank you Beatles.

4 thoughts on “Honky Tonk

  1. Pt. 2 of the original is high on my list of great songs. If you come to a party at my house you will probably hear it. The sax is unbeatable. Goes to show you don’t have to be that fast to rock. Johnny Winter should put his shirt on and tell the drummer to shut up. The Beach Boys must have been short one song on the album. I highly doubt that is them playing.

  2. Gene’s right in a couple of ways. One, the sax is as monster as Jr Walker is on Urgent.

    Second, filler for the Beach Boys, who were hardly instrumentalists. I mean, they did their job, but great musicians they were not.

    In fact, as an example, my fave Beach Boys song is indeed “Don’t Worry Baby,” and to show what a powerful great song it is, I love despite its “guitar solo.”


  3. Hey, don’t knock the solo. I love way he stays on the IV when the chord changes to the V. Primitive at its most sophisticated. You guys probably know this one but most people don’t, definitely one of my faves by these guys.

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